Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beautiful Lies

Just read an article a friend posted. These sentences, taken from the article, pretty much sum it up.

"When a 10-year-old...posted provocatively for French Vogue, the images sparked an international debate over the sexualization of children."

"A French senator issued a report aimed at stopping the “hyper-sexualization” of young children."

The article ended with this question: "Should it be the job of the government to stop the sexualization of girls?"

I'm not linking the article here because I don't want to further circulate this girl's picture, which is not particularly offensive [imo], but I believe that the implications the photo makes about her [and other young girls] is. Here are my thoughts: Cause - ya know, sometimes I just can't stay quiet.

Is it the government's job? No. It is the job of mothers and fathers to protect and love and nurture our children. It is our job to educate them. It is our job to shelter their innocent hearts - and prepare them, as they mature, for life as an adult. The responsibility falls on our shoulders, but so many of us have failed our children, leaving them vulnerable prey to wandering eyes, predatory greed and the dangerous lies our culture force-feeds them about beauty, value, image and self-worth.

Is she beautiful? Absolutely, and her beauty should not be peddled to selfish voyeurs - to wet their appetite for exploitation.

Shame on us for not only tolerating this treatment of children, but for endorsing it. It continues because it is profitable. Who makes it profitable? Society - Grown men and women who purchase the magazines and the products they advertise and who watch the pageant shows etc. We know better - or should.

I hope those who have the power to act legislatively, do so, but ultimately, it is our responsibility as parents and quite frankly, as morally responsible humans. Shame on us [adult society] for neglecting [and abusing] what is arguably our most significant position - the ones who are bringing up the future of this world.
All this comes after having taken my children to the grocery store today, where a magazine with an image of a fully nude woman [her legs and arms crossed] was displayed facing the main isle [not just the checkout line].

I think the naked human body is beautiful. But when it is cheaply displayed for 5.99 on the lower rack for my six year old son to view, and the only answer I get from the store management is "Well, did you use our marked "family-friendly" checkout?" - do I put it? Have you ever known someone who is just gorgeous, then you really get to know the person and slowly they become less and less attractive? That is how I feel about it.

[By the way - Good to know that ONE of their 20 check out lines is "family-friendly", which, actually, I assumed meant it was okay if my children were crying while we stood in line there, I didn't realize it meant "porn-free" - although, like I said, the mag wasn't displayed in the line, it was facing the main isle for everyone to view.]

Soap box aside, "she" is lovely. She is also fake [photoshop-ed], but I'm sure lovely even without the editing. But you know what, that magazine cover - boldly displayed - caught my husband's eye [who pointed it out to me...and who, I should add, treats me very honorably], as it was intended to. Now, I'm a pretty girl [or so I'm told] but, come on, who can compete with digital perfection? When these images repeatedly demand our attention they set a false, unrealistic expectation or unattainable goal, leaving us with a feeling of dissatisfaction and/or failure. How can a woman's heart help but wonder if she could ever possibly satisfy his eyes and excite his passion when "she" is plastered everywhere we turn and her standard is no match for any natural creature?

She is on billboards, in movies, on television, on covers and centerfolds and window advertisements. She is in the music we listen to, she is in the conversations around us. She is hidden in our inboxes, text messages, and search engines. She stalks us until we finally accept her - she slips into our eyes and hides within our minds where she can begin to reshape our perspectives of ourselves and of others, for her own benefit. There, she is able to trample a path, through repetition, to lead us somewhere deep and dark where only the light she shines can comfort us, but it's a dim glow - we become unable to see what is around us, our eyes are on ourselves and her lies. Like bugs to a light - we are memorized, focused and ignorant...only to be destroyed. We are unhappy with ourselves. We no longer find pleasure in our spouse. Even our children can become objects to us, we sell their images for gain, and take advantage of their innocence. She is persistent and she has an agenda: money.

When every time I take my children to the store, they see images like this, 1. it prematurely exposes them to adult sexuality and 2. it begins to create in their minds a false ideal. It seduces us to believe that "she" [the sexual image on that piece of glossy paper] is worth chasing after - and how we become beautiful or conquer beauty. She is a lie, and lovely as she may be, the more I get to know her and the consequences of believing her and pursuing her...the uglier she is.

Men, she doesn't satisfy. She teases and tempts and draws your eyes away from what is real. Her satisfaction is cheap, like a Mc-whatever-your-favorite-grease-burger-supersized-meal-is...and it might fill your gut, but if that's your diet, it will eventually devastate you internally and lead you down a road to a plethora of ugly and degenerative diseases. You're depriving your self of nutrition and substance - and feeding yourself hidden toxins. She might taste good now...but she will not leave you un-scarred.

Not only that, but she is easy, she doesn't argue or need attention. You pick her up when it is convenient for you and put her down when you're done using her. She's cheap. She's attractive. Think about this though: if you stop exercising, your muscles grow weak. Stop working at relationships, and you stop maturing - can I be so bold as to call it cowardly? "She" might be an Internet site, a magazine, a woman but you treat "her" as an object. Men - you were not intended to love an object. It is a weak substitute. I've met a few men. I've met many grown boys. Tell me she has not befriended them - I'm all but certain she has.

Women - stop tolerating this. It is not okay. It is not okay for our girls to grow into their adulthood feeling unlovely and inadequate. It is not okay for our young men to enter into their adolencence with their minds muddled by distracting and destructive images. They become addicted and enslaved before they even have a chance to fight it.

Stop buying the magazines that shove lies about sexuality and beauty down our throats. Stop it. Even commercials and advertisements that applaud themselves for displaying a more realistic view of a woman's nude body cannot boast asserting the viewer's beauty. They are selling a product...usually intended to make you "prettier". The message is still that you are not good enough. It is a lie.

Women, love your man. Talk about these issues. Love him. Don't be naive. Everyday men - yes, even the men we love & respect - face this issue. Guaranteed.

Parents - Love your sons. Talk about these issues. Prepare him. Confront him - insist that he become a man and not continue his adulthood as a boy. Teach him to love and honor and respect the women in his life. Demand it. Demand that he treat women with kindness and gentleness - in both his action, and words - and encourage him to value women in his thoughts.

Love your girls. Protect them. Nurture them. We teach them by our actions as well as our words how to value themselves and how to expect to be treated by others. Be intentional. Let her know that she is beautiful. But also that her beauty is not written on her skin alone. It is within her heart. It is seen in her actions and in her words - in the way she views and treat others. Speak up. Address the images and advertisements around you. Talk about these issues - don't leave her to try to navigate through the cultural influences [driven by profit] on her own in the years she is learning who she is as an individual - be her mom - be her dad - love her.

Can you tell I'm passionate about this? I think it is kind of a big deal; I believe the issues surrounding these things affect far more of our lives than we acknowledge or readily recognize. Don't ignore it.